I don’t know about you, but I love to shop online. A LOT! However, some online stores are scams and can cause all sorts of trouble, such as accessing your personal information without permission. That is why I have put together a quick 8 step list to help you ensure the website you are about to purchase from is safe and secure.
Step 1: Look out for ‘pop up ads’
Be very careful clicking retail ads that pop up on your screen while searching the web. These pop up ads often don’t link you to an official website but to a fake organisation designed to steal your information. Most reputable retailers do not use or have pop ups on their website, they are aware that customers can become annoyed with the constant advertising and will look elsewhere.
Step 2: Positive Reviews+
I always check out other peoples reviews of new websites and businesses that I am considering to purchase from. Type into your preferred search engine the name of the website and ‘review’. There is nearly always past customers comments in regards to the quality of the website, products and services. For example, I found a clothing website with nice products at a reasonable price. Before I purchased a dress I was dying for, I looked them up. As it turns out, many past customers had terrible experiences, such as never receiving their order through to having to pay way too much to return the item as it didn’t fit, or that the clothing quality was terrible. Without a second thought, I said goodbye to the dress and moved on.
Step 3: Check out their contact information
Have a look to see if the website has a physical phone number and address. If they do, that’s a good sign they are legit, but not 100% confirmation of this. If you are still unsure, try out the phone number and talk to their customer service centre or search the physical address in your search engine.
Step 4: There’s a Return Policy
This can be a biggie. Trustworthy sites will spell out and explain their return and shipping policies. Have a read of these policies very carefully. If you cannot locate this information or it sounds a bit off, shop elsewhere just to be safe.
Step 5: Pricing
I love a bargain as much as the next person but be wary of sites selling products, such as technology, that advertise a price far lower than your local merchant. A product that is so cheap you thought is too good to be true, you are probably right. These products could be unlicensed, stolen goods or simply falsely advertised and you never receive them.
Step 6: Payment options
If the website offers the option to pay by credit card, take that option as it is a lot safer than paying by debit card. If the website accepts a variety of credit cards, that’s another good sign as they must have approval from the card issuing companies. Suspicious sites may ask for debit card numbers- be wary, you don’t want the wrong person accessing your account number. Another option is to use PayPal.
Step 7: Little Padlock or Security Certification
Before finalising your purchase by entering in those credit card details, have a quick scan of the page. If you notice a padlock certification symbol, that means the website is encrypted for online safety. This is a good thing as this encryption is a data-scrambling technology that prevents crooks from stealing your personal financial information.
Step 8: The site has a privacy statement
Official websites will explain how they protect your personal and financial information and secure your credit card or other payment option information. This is a disclosure statement and you should have a read of it to see if you feel comfortable with their policy before buying.
When those irresistible sales start, just remember the above steps and do your homework before buying those products on a new website you’re checking out.
Please note that this is only a guide to safe online shopping. The above steps are unfortunately not a guarantee that you won’t get ‘hurt’ in the world of online shopping. Just remember to be careful regardless of what website you are purchasing from, whether it is a known brand or not, because even the big famous businesses can have their websites hacked.